FAVORITE PLACES IN ECUADOR - PART 3
With this article we conclude our short blog series about the favorite places of our friends and acquaintances in Ecuador. Maybe we have inspired you and you would like to travel Ecuador yourself and find your favorite place? Have a look at our website or get in touch with us.
iLKA's favorite place: CaJAS NATIONAL PARK
Ilka is from Germany and lives in Ecuador since 8 years. For her it was difficult to name just one place because there are so many beautiful places in Ecuador. But one of her favorite places is Cajas National Park, which she always finds impressive because of its special vegetation and high-altitude lagoons. If you are lucky, you can also encounter llamas there. There are several hiking trails, suitable for every fitness level.
How to get there and what to do? From Cuenca you can take the bus or a cab. The trip takes about an hour. On the way you will pass restaurants, some of them rustic, where you can eat the local specialty trout. The national park is located at altitudes between 3115 m and 3550 m and is characterized by paramo landscape with many lakes – officially there are 232. It is a popular hiking area. You can walk on your own and follow the signs but it is also possible to take a organized tour with a guide. There is also the possibility of camping. In the entrance area there is an information center with a restaurant and sanitary facilities.
What should you take with you? Hiking shoes, warm clothes and rain gear, because it rains frequently and the temperatures at 3500 m altitude are quite cool. Clothing in layers is best. For longer hikes you should also think of snacks.
Nestor's Favorite Place: Atacames
Nestor is Argentinian. He has only been living in Ecuador for 6 months, but he has already found his favorite place: It is the coastal town of Atacames in the province of Esmeraldas.
To get there, go via Los Bancos in the direction of the town of Esmeraldas. Just before the town of Esmeraldas, keep to the left and follow the Trocal del Pacifico.
Atacames is a lively coastal town and Nestor appreciates the many activities that can be done here such as surfing, boat rides, walking along the coastal promenade and enjoying the nightlife. You can enjoy typical dishes with fish and seafood and experience cultural performances such as traditional dances or demonstrations with the instrument marimba.
Conveniently, there are showers and restrooms everywhere near the beach that you can use for a few dollars.
What should I take with me to Atacames? In addition to light clothing, you should take cash in small bills and a credit card. We also recommend sunscreen and a head covering.
Veronica's Favorite Place: Zaruma
Zaruma is a small town in the coastal region, nestled in a small mountain range with a lot of history. It has been declared “Cultural Heritage of Ecuador”, “Magical City of Ecuador” and “City of National Tourist Interest”. It is one of the oldest cities in Ecuador and was founded by the Spanish in 1595, so the architecture and even the customs are strongly Spanish. The climate is ideal, as the temperature ranges from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius.
Veronica informs us extensively about how to get there and the attractions of the place:
Zaruma is one of the cities in the province of El Oro that is easy to reach. From the main cities in the country there are city buses that can take you to Machala, and from any bus terminal in the city you can take a bus to Zaruma, which is about a 3 hour drive. From Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and Loja there is direct transport, one of the main transport cooperatives is called TAC, from Quito the trip takes about 11 hours and from Guayaquil about 5 hours. From Cuenca the trip takes about 6 hours and from Loja about 2 hours.
Another way to get there is to fly from Quito to Santa Rosa airport in El Oro province. From there, the trip by public transportation takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
The cost of a bus ticket ranges from $15 to $20 from Quito and Guayaquil, while a round-trip ticket from Quito to Santa Rosa costs about $120.
Zaruma is located at an altitude of 1200 meters and is known both nationally and internationally as one of the best producers of highland coffee. There are also still artisanal gold mines where Atahualpa’s gold is said to have come from, which is still a mystery.
In Zaruma there are some typical dishes based on green plantains, including the tigrillo and the molloco with peanuts, others like the cecina with mote rice, practically a white rice without salt, with quark and cured meat as a side dish.
There are still some rivers and waterfalls in the area, as well as a small museum and a gold mine that can be visited.
The people are extremely hospitable and warm, and the area is safe, undoubtedly an excellent place to visit.
If you are interested in history and architecture and like to discover new places, the Zaruma area is ideal for you. Lovers of good food and photography will also enjoy themselves here.
There are many restaurants where you can enjoy the gastronomy of the place, as well as accommodations, both hotels and cozy hostels. There are also options through Airbnb and one of the great accommodations that is “Hosteria El Jardin” where you can watch the landscape early in the morning. It’s a magical place and you feel as if the city is sitting on the clouds.
And what should you take with you to Zaruma? Verónica gives several recommendations:
Since you are at 1200 meters above sea level, it is advisable to wear light clothes, because the climate is mild: sneakers to be able to visit the swimming pool and warm places, and walking shoes, for longer walks. Within the city there is practically no public transport, most of the transport is provided by the cab cooperative, but since it is a small city, you can also get around on foot, so it is advisable to wear sports shoes.
A jacket for the evenings. Use sunscreen and possibly insect repellent if you are going to mountainous and humid areas.
What else do you need to consider? Just be patient, as the last stretch to Zaruma goes around the mountain so you can enjoy the scenery.
Wear a helmet and boots when visiting the gold mine, which is open to the public.
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